In the Universe of Kingdom Hearts, also called the World, there are many recurring worlds, items, and elements that shape the Kingdom Hearts universe as it is.
According to legends, long ago, there was one single world that was constantly bathed in the warmth of the Light of Kingdom Hearts and protected by its counterpart, the χ-blade. Over time, people came to desire the power of Kingdom Hearts, introducing darkness into the World. The event became known as the Keyblade War.
In order to take control of Kingdom Hearts, many people forged Keyblades in the image of the χ-blade, and they clashed together in a far-reaching conflict that embroiled the entire World. In the end, darkness covered the World, the χ-blade was shattered into twenty pieces, seven of light and thirteen of darkness, and the "true" Kingdom Hearts disappeared into the darkness.
However, the World was restored by the light within the hearts of children, but as many individual worlds separated from each other. The remaining Keyblade wielders resolved to protect the World from further destruction, becoming guardians of the World order.
Prior to the release of the Heartless, the worlds were surrounded by barriers to prevent outside interference, making it impossible for different worlds to have contact with each other. However, the arrival of the Heartless caused the barriers between the worlds to crumble and disappear, and some worlds were consumed by the eldritch horde. Those who travel between worlds are advised to avoid meddling in the affairs of other worlds and informing their inhabitants of the existence of other worlds. In order to maintain a balance of separation, several characters, notably Sora, Donald, and Goofy, magically alter their physical appearances in certain worlds to avoid standing out.
The Black coat is special clothing imbued with magic that protects the wearer's heart from corruption when traveling through Corridors of Darkness. It was first worn by Xehanort as an alternative to the traditional Keyblade Armor, which shields one's entire being. The coat is primarily worn by Master Xehanort and the members of Organization XIII. When denizens of light, such as Riku or Mickey Mouse, need to utilize the corridors of darkness, they also don the black coat.
Book of Prophecies
The Book of Prophecies is a book that was introduced in Kingdom Hearts χ. According to Chirithy, before its creator disappeared, he bestowed his six followers with new names and gave five of them a tome of prophecy. These five followers would later become the Foretellers and read the future written in the codex. One passage on the last page shocked them all:
- “The war in that place will lead to the defeat and destruction of the Light.
The World will be enveloped in eternal Darkness.”
- ―The Last Line in the Book
To save the world from destruction the Foretellers used the power hidden in the book and handed it down to the followers of their respective union.
Following their defeat near the end of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, Maleficent mentions to Pete that she heard of something similar to the Datascape, the ancient Book of Prophecies. According to a legend it is said to be capable of transcribing events that have yet to take place and even conjuring them, making entire worlds filled with beings and powers of those future events. Maleficent wants to search for a connection between the book and the Datascape, even wondering, if there is also a link between the book and Jiminy's Journal.
- Main article: Keyblade
A Keyhole is a gateway in each world that leads to the heart of that world. Each keyhole is hidden somewhere in its world, leading the Heartless to invade worlds and search for their Keyholes. Upon discovering the Keyhole, the Heartless will enter it and eventually devour the world's heart. After a world's heart is consumed, the world crumbles, and fades from existence. It is said that, if the Keyblade locks a world's Keyhole, it can never be opened again. Thus, Sora, along with Donald and Goofy, travel from world to world to seal the Keyholes using the Keyblade.
In Kingdom Hearts II, the alternatives to the Keyhole are Gates (ゲート Gēto?). Instead of leading to the heart of its world, gates will reveal a route to another world Sora can travel to. Gates are opened when a specific item or object, different for each world, is surrounded in light and is accompanied by a gust of wind.
In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Aqua locked the Keyhole to the Land of Departure and used it's power to transform the land into Castle Oblivion.
Light and Darkness
Light and Darkness are two forces parallel to each other. Denizens of Light are associated with good while members of Darkness are often portrayed as evil or villainous. The Kingdom Hearts series places a focus on the battle between Light and Darkness, though this distinction is broken when characters, like Riku or Terra, accept Darkness as a part of themselves. Likewise, Light itself is not entirely benevolent, as it can also be utilized as a weapon by malignant characters such as Xemnas. Most characters, including Mickey and Sora, come to understand that there is always Darkness where there is Light and that Darkness does not always necessarily mean evil.
All hearts have both light and darkness within them, but despite the neutrality of both concepts, Darkness can consume the hearts if people embrace too much of it, producing Heartless and, on some occasions, a Nobody.
Realm of Light
The Realm of Light (光の世界 Hikari no Sekai) is the portion of the universe with an affinity for light, and is positioned opposite the Realm of Darkness. Like the Realm of Darkness, the Realm of Light has a Keyblade, the Kingdom Key, which chose Sora as its wielder. The Realm of Light is the primary setting for the series, although the protagonists sometimes travel to the Realm of Darkness, the Realm Between that connects them, or the Sleeping Worlds that lie parallel to them all.
Door to Light
The door leading to the Realm of Light is called the Door to Light (光の扉 Hikari no Tobira). It was the door Sora and Riku went through while they were stuck in the Realm of Darkness. It is not certain what caused the door to appear, though one reason could be, as Riku pointed out at the end of the game, the light within Sora's heart, which was brought out by Kairi's Letter.
Realm of Darkness
The Realm of Darkness (闇の世界 Yami no Sekai) is a realm made up of Darkness in people in every world. As with the Realm of Light, this realm has a Keyblade, Kingdom Key D, which chose King Mickey as its wielder. Kingdom Hearts is found here. This is where the most powerful Heartless can be found, as this is also the home of all the Heartless. Sora fought Ansem, Seeker of Darkness here in Kingdom Hearts. Aqua also ended up trapped here by the end of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep due to saving the possessed Terra from being swallowed, effectively taking his place. Ansem the Wise ends up trapped here a second time, but lacks the way to escape like before.
Door to Darkness
The Door to Darkness (闇の扉 Yami no Tobira) is the dark counterpart of the Door to Light. It was shown to lie within the End of the World in Kingdom Hearts. Beyond the door is the Realm of Darkness where Kingdom Hearts, the heart of all worlds, resides.
The Realm Between (狭間の世界 Hazama no Sekai ) is the third realm in the Kingdom Hearts series, and lies on the boundary between the Realms of Light and Darkness. Few worlds exist within it, and most have some special nature or purpose.
As of now, Traverse Town, Land of Departure/Castle Oblivion, Twilight Town, Mysterious Tower, and The World That Never Was are the only worlds confirmed to exist within the Realm Between. Each world ties closer to the Realm of Light or the Realm of Darkness, with the exception of Twilight Town, which exists exactly in the middle.
The Sleeping Worlds (夢見る世界 Yumemiru Sekai , lit. "Dreaming Worlds") are a place where parts of worlds go after their hearts have been taken over by darkness. After Sora sealed the Door to Darkness with help of Mickey, many worlds were restored from their demise, but some of them were submerged into deep sleep that prevented them from waking fully for a year. Sora and Riku are sent into Realm of Sleep in order to release those worlds and complete their Mark of Mastery exam.
Sora and Riku travel through worlds such as Destiny Islands, La Cité des Cloches, The Grid and Prankster's Paradise in order to release them from their sleep. They also travel to worlds whose dreams are of the past such as Country of the Musketeers and Symphony of Sorcery. Traverse Town also appears within this Realm, brought into being for Joshua to be able to save Neku and his friends from the demise of their own world.
Sea of the SkiesThe vast space between the worlds is known as Sea of the Skies (異空の海 Isora no Umi) or Star Ocean (星の大海 Hoshi no Taikai). Ventus, Aqua, and Terra travel this space using their Keyblade Glider while Sora, Donald, Goofy and Mickey use a Gummi Ship.
Travel between the worlds is normally impossible. The worlds are all protected by dimensional barriers that prevent outsiders from entering for the most part. However, these barriers can be broken, resulting in a meteor shower in that world.
In Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, Sora, Donald, and Goofy use the Gummi Ship to travel between worlds on the World Map, an event that serves as a mini-game between areas. Some worlds require certain special Gummi Blocks to access; for example, a special Navigation Gummi must be installed by Cid to unlock a second set of worlds in Kingdom Hearts. Once they reach them, the party can enter and then depart each world through its Save Points. In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, there are no Gummi Ships; the worlds Sora visits are recreations from his memories from the first game brought to life on each floor of Castle Oblivion.
Methods of travel
Currently, there are five known ways to travel between the worlds:
- Gummi: Pieces of Gummi known as "Star Shards", or the Gummi Ships built from them are able to travel the Sea of the Skies. Using Gummi Ships is much easier, as single Star Shards will cause random jumps if their handler isn't skilled in their use.
- Lanes between (異空の回廊 Isora no Kairou, lit. "Corridors of the Skies"): The Lanes Between are a series of "roads" between the worlds in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep that were unlocked by Master Eraqus. Ventus, Aqua, and Terra frequently use these paths to navigate the worlds. The presence of Darkness is very strong within them, forcing travelers to wear their Keyblade Armor as a safety precaution. To enter the Lanes, the Keyblade wielder raises his or her Keyblade to the sky, and creates a portal leading into the Lanes, appearing somewhat similar to the Dark Corridors. Upon opening the way, they usually call their Keyblade Glider and use it to enter. The Lanes resemble the Corridors of Darkness, but with a color scheme closely resembling the Aurora Borealis.
- Gates (ゲート Gēto): After the events of Kingdom Hearts the worlds have prepared new pathways which can be accessed though the Gates.
- Corridors of Darkness (闇の回廊 Yami no Kairou): By tunneling directly through the darkness, a traveler can move between worlds almost instantaneously. However, their direct contact with the darkness between worlds puts them at a great risk of being corrupted or engulfed by the darkness.
- Teleportation: Certain sorcerers, like Merlin and Maleficent, are able to instantaneously transport themselves and others directly from world to world, apparently without passing through the lanes at all.
- Time travel: Certain sorcerers, like Merlin and Yen Sid, are able to open passages to past versions of a world, or even the Sleeping Worlds, allowing travelers to move not only through space but also time.
Certain characters, such as Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Young Xehanort, are capable of traversing through time, although the exact means of travel are still unknown. However, as stated by Xehanort, there are many limitations on time travel in this way. First, the person must "dispose of their body". Second, the person traveling must have existed in some form in the time period they wish to go to. Third, the person can only "move in one direction with the flow of time", i.e. continually moving forward into the future or backward into the past. In addition, the individual is not allowed to alter the events of that point in time. Lastly, the traveler and all those displaced from their original time will eventually return to their respective periods, with all memories of their time travel erased.
Two known vehicles are used as modes of transportation, whether they are powered by the aforementioned methods of travel or use an independent source:
- Keyblade Glider (キーブレードライダー Kīburēdo Raidā, lit. "Keyblade Rider"): An ability only accessible to Keyblade wielders, in which the Keyblade can transform into vehicles by throwing the Keyblade into the sky, where it transforms into its vehicle form. The vehicle can be used to fly, even to other worlds, as well as attack. So far, this has only been demonstrated by Terra, Aqua, and Ventus, but it is unknown if other Keyblade wielders have this ability.
Paopu FruitThe Paopu Fruit is a star-shaped fruit found on the Destiny Islands. According to legend, those who share a Paopu Fruit will have their destinies bound. Aqua first tells a young Sora and Riku this when she visits the Destiny Islands, and Sora later desires to share one with his love interest Kairi. Though he does not get this opportunity, Kairi later crafts a Wayfinder modeled after the fruit to symbolize her and Sora's connection.
A Wayfinder (つながりのお守り Tsunagari no Omamori , lit. "Connection Charm") is a star-shaped lucky charm that is used to provide luck to travelers. It is designed after the Paopu Fruit, which is said to tie friends together. In Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, the bond that the charms represent is manifested physically as the Dimension Link system.
There are six wayfinders that have been presented in the series so far:
A World (世界 Sekai) is a location that appears in the Kingdom Hearts series. Serving as the "levels" for the games, Sora and other characters are charged with visiting and protecting them through the course of the series. By defending the worlds from the Heartless, Nobodies, or other enemies, Sora keeps the Darkness from spreading and the worlds from being manipulated or destroyed. At the end of every world Sora, Donald, and Goofy have to fight a boss of that world (which is either a giant Heartless or a Disney villain) which opens the Keyhole area when defeated. At the end Sora locks the Keyhole and earns a Gummi that will let him go to the next world.
Each world that appears in the Kingdom Hearts series has its own distinct look, and for the most part hold true to the movies and cartoons they are based on. Often the plot of the game in that world will be based on its original source. Almost all worlds can be visited in the course of the game and are part of the playthrough; there are exceptions, though, since some places can be seen in cinematics but not actually accessed by Sora's party. All worlds are separate from one another, and with a few exceptions, most people are unaware of the existence of other worlds.
There are over thirty worlds that have appeared in the Kingdom Hearts series so far. Most of them are based on Disney's animated features and contain locations and characters from or inspired by the films. As a result, worlds are greatly varied in appearance, style, and nature, as their sources range from the oldest cartoons created by Disney to more current movies in the Disney canon.
The oldest source is the 1928 cartoon Steamboat Willie, used as a basis for Timeless River, while the most recent inspiration for a world from Disney's animated features is 2002's Lilo & Stitch, the source for Deep Space. In Kingdom Hearts II, two live-action films, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Tron served as the foundation for the worlds Port Royal and Space Paranoids, respectively. In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance one direct-to-video movie, Mickey, Donald and Goofy: The Three Musketeers, which served as the source for Country of the Musketeers, makes it the first world in the series to originate from a direct-to-video film, instead of a film from the animated features canon.
In addition to the Disney-based worlds, twelve worlds are exclusives that were created by game developers Square Enix just for the Kingdom Hearts series. They are not part of the Disney film canon, nor Square Enix's games canon, but do tend to be populated with Square Enix characters, especially from the Final Fantasy series, as well as the occasional Disney character or original characters created just for Kingdom Hearts.
Some worlds have names that don't seem to accurately reflect what is found there. A famous example is Neverland in Kingdom Hearts; Sora and company get to go through Captain Hook's ship and fly around the Clock Tower, but never actually reach the island Neverland where Peter Pan and Tinker Bell live. To further confuse things, some worlds in Kingdom Hearts II contain what could almost be considered sub-levels or second worlds within them, such as the Underworld at Olympus Coliseum or Christmas Town in Halloween Town.
- ↑ Secret Ansem's Report 11 "Like Castle Oblivion, that village Traverse Town also rests in the cleft between light and dark.
- ↑ Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania "[Land of Departure] It is a special place between the realms of darkness and light, and has been protected for generations so that it is not used for evil.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Director's Secret Report XIII "At present, there are 4 worlds in-between these planes that have appeared: A) Castle Oblivion, B) Twilight Town, C) Yen Sid's Tower, and D) The World That Never Was. Constructed in this manner, Light < C < B > A > D > Darkness"
- ↑ Director's Secret Report XIII "There are two means of transfer between these worlds, first being the Gummi Ship Sora uses in what is called the "Sea of the Skies". In this way they can come and go between the worlds dotted through space."
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